U.S. regulator fines ING units $1.2 million for email violations

Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:12am EST

The logo of ING bank is seen outside an office in central Brussels November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The logo of ING bank is seen outside an office in central Brussels November 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog fined five affiliates of ING Groep NV a total of $1.2 million for not storing or reviewing millions of company emails, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found the firms did not properly configure hundreds of employee email accounts to ensure the messages sent to and from them were stored and reviewed at various times between 2004 and 2012, the regulator said.

Securities industry rules require brokerages to store and review emails for a certain period to ensure compliance with procedures and to prevent potential wrongdoing. One type of software glitch affecting four of the ING firms led to nearly six million emails left unreviewed by supervisors.

ING, which agreed to the fine in a settlement with FINRA, neither admitted nor denied the allegations but consented to the entry of the regulator's findings.

The five ING affiliates self-reported the problems to FINRA beginning in late 2010, an ING spokesman said in a statement. The issue did not affect ING customers and was not related to any customer issue.

ING broker-dealers also undertook an extensive review of their policies, procedures and systems. As a result, those named in FINRA's action have engaged in "significant efforts" to improve their email retention and supervisory practices, the spokesman said.

The five ING affiliates named in FINRA's action are Directed Services LLC, ING America Equities Inc, ING Financial Advisers LLC, ING Financial Partners Inc and ING Investment Advisors LLC.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Nick Zieminski)